Navigating the Rideau Winter Trail

Navigating the Rideau Winter Trail: Your Ultimate Guide

Don’t let the winter chill get you down and embrace Ottawa’s great outdoors with the Rideau Winter Trail! Set against the backdrop of the capital’s snowy landscapes, this trail offers a refreshing twist on traditional winter hikes. 

With its winding paths and breathtaking vistas, the Rideau Winter Trail promises an exciting trek through nature’s icy embrace. 

Don’t worry about getting lost along the way, because we’ll give you the whole rundown on everything you need to know about the Rideau Winter Trail with this handy guide! 

History of the Rideau Winter Trail

In 2019, CEO Nicki Bridgland, Councillor Mathieu Fleury, and Councillor Tobi Nussbaum spearheaded the creation of a single-groomed trail along the Rideau River. 

The initiative continued the following year, with Councillor Rawlson King stepping in for former Councillor Nussbaum and Overbrook resident Peter Nor joining the team. 

From mid-January to early March, weekly grooming sessions transformed a 3km loop between the Rideau Sports Centre and the Queensway into a winter destination.

In November 2020, the Rideau Winter Trail of Ottawa officially became a not-for-profit organization.

The trail stretches from Donald Street to Hurdman, spans 12km, and provides opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and leisurely walks.

There are future plans to also extend the trail to Hog’s Back, which depends on getting enough funding and community support.

How long is the Rideau Winter Trail?

The Rideau Winter Trail spans around 12km of trail where you can go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and even leisurely walks.

However, there are also future plans to make the trail longer and reach all the way to Hog’s Back. 

What areas are included in the Rideau Winter Trail?

The Rideau Winter Trail includes the area of Donald St. all the way to Bank St. along the length of the Rideau River. This is about 12km of trail for you to traverse, whether you’re just taking a walk or going on a skiing trip!

Things to Remember When Visiting the Rideau Winter Trail

Now that we’ve covered all the basic info, we’re sure that you’re already raring to go and try out the Rideau Winter Trail yourself. However, there are several important tips you need to know to make the most of your experience.

1. Dress in layers.

Dress in layers

Ottawa’s winter weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared by wearing multiple layers that you can add or remove as needed. Getting frostbite is no joke, so it’s important to stay not only comfortable but also safe throughout your time on the trail.

2. Stay hydrated.

Stay hydrated

Even though it’s cold outside, your body still needs hydration, especially if you’re engaging in taxing physical activities like skiing or snowshoeing. Bring a water bottle with you and take regular sips to stay hydrated.

3. Respect the trail.

Respect the trail

Be mindful of other trail users and follow any posted signs or guidelines by staying on designated trails to avoid damaging the natural environment. It’s also easy to get lost, so don’t be a know-it-all and take a shortcut when a sign clearly states the right path.

4. Be prepared for changing conditions. 

Be prepared for changing conditions

No matter how prepared we think we are before going on a trail, weather conditions can change rapidly in the winter, so expect anything to happen. 

To minimize any possible risks, bring along essentials like a first aid kit, extra clothing, and emergency supplies in case of unexpected circumstances.

5. Check trail conditions before you go.

Check trail conditions before you go

Before heading out to the Rideau Winter Trail, check for any updates on trail conditions or closures. This information can usually be found online or by contacting the trail’s organizers directly. 

By staying informed, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the trail, instead of accidentally going during bad weather conditions or when it’s closed.

6. Bring a buddy.

Bring a buddy

Whenever possible, bring a friend or family member along with you when exploring the Rideau Winter Trail. Not only is it more fun to share the experience with others, but it also adds an extra layer of safety in case of unexpected emergencies.

7. Be mindful of the local wildlife.

Be mindful of the local wildlife

The Rideau Winter Trail is located in a natural environment, which is why we’re lucky with so many sightings of our local wildlife along the trail.

However, we have to be respectful of any wildlife we may encounter along the way, and keep our distance to avoid disturbing animals in their natural habitat.

8. Leave no trace.

Leave no trace

Aside from other people, we have to keep in mind that we’re sharing the trail with our native flora and fauna.

This is why you should pack up everything you bring with you and dispose of any waste properly. This helps preserve the natural beauty of the trail for future generations to enjoy and also keeps the environment clean for the local plants and animals.